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Chapter One

Sir Conrad could not wait to bathe and have his way with his new wife.  After being gone a fortnight hunting with the prince, his body was tired, achy and hungry for touch.  They'd arrived only a few hours earlier and Meriwyn had run to meet him, throwing herself into his arms, the musical sound of her laughter in his ear.  She was his second wife, ten years younger and more beautiful to him than any lady in the kingdom. 

She'd accompanied their new princess, Tova, to the kingdom as her lady-in-waiting.  He'd been taken by her from the moment he first saw her, and immediately petitioned the prince for her hand. The prince had granted it, after asking Meriwyn if she were willing.  They'd been in the great hall, and the prince had summoned Meriwyn to his side at the upper table. Conrad had watched intently as she had bent her head to listen to the prince, then lifted her gaze to meet his eyes across the length of the table.  She'd had a deliciously startled look on her face, her lips parted as they'd stared at one another, a silent communication running between them.  Her cheeks had colored and she'd answered the prince without breaking her gaze with him.  He could see her lips forming the words, “Aye, my lord,” and he'd felt a surge of victory.

Thus far, she'd made an excellent wife, dedicating herself to him and his eight-year-old daughter, Anna, wholeheartedly.

Henic and Hunwald, his squire and page, pulled off his boots, unfastened his leather armor, and helped him out of his clothes.  He stepped into the warm bath with a sigh of pleasure.  A light tap sounded on the door and Meriwyn entered. 

“I'll wash my husband, boys,” she said with an impish smile.

Even Henic at the tender age of ten understood what that meant and both the lads left grinning and waggling their eyebrows at him. 

Meriwyn smiled a slow, seductive smile and made an attempt to push her long sleeves back. 

“Mayhap you should simply remove your outer dress,” he suggested craftily.

“As you wish, my lord,” she said in a knowing voice and her deft fingers began to unlace her bodice.  The bodice fell away and the thin linen chemise beneath did nothing to hide her enticing curves.  She knelt beside the bath and leaned forward with the washcloth, the stiff peaks of her nipples steepling the chemise. 

“Let down your hair,” he commanded huskily. 

She obeyed, unbinding her heavy, dark hair, which fell thick and wavy across her shoulders.  He sighed contentedly and settled back against the edge of the wooden tub, watching his lovely wife as she ran the washcloth over his weary body. 

He enjoyed her ministrations for a while and then decided he could put it off no longer-- he needed to speak with her before he could do any bedding. While they were away, the princess and Meriwyn had disobeyed the prince and gone outside the castle grounds without guard. Of course, it was Meriwyn's duty to accompany her lady, so he hoped she was faultless in the incident and their conversation would be short.

“Meriwyn,” he said before the washcloth drew too close to his groin and he'd forget his purpose. “Your lady is getting whipped by the prince this afternoon.”

Meriwyn dropped the washcloth and stared at him with dismay. 

“Do you know why?”

“M-my lord?”

“Do you know why she is being chastised?”

Meriwyn sat back on her heels and gazed at him, blinking. Then her shoulders slumped as she arrived at her conclusion. “Aye,” she answered glumly, “For leaving the castle grounds.”

“Aye.  I know it is your duty to follow your lady wherever she may go, but you also knew it was forbidden.”

Meriwyn's eyes searched his face. “Yes, my lord,” she said quietly.

“I hope that you did everything you could to discourage your lady from disobeying her husband.”

Meriwyn's convulsive swallow and her delay in answering the question told him everything he needed to know. She was a spirited girl, quick-witted and full of opinions. Suddenly, he could imagine her not just following her lady, but encouraging her to disobey. He stood up, water streaming back into the tub.  She brought a clean linen cloth and began to dry him when he stepped out of the bath.  He caught her wrist as she dried his chest and looked at her with a raised eyebrow.  “Meriwyn?”

Her face had paled.  “Yes, my lord?”  Her big brown eyes were wide and round, standing out against her light skin. 

“Did you encourage your lady to disobey?”

Meriwyn tugged at the wrist he had captured. “I had no idea it was a rule the prince meant to enforce,” she said defensively. 

He had to hide his smile, because he truly loved her spirit, preferring a lively woman to a mouse any day. Instead he looked at her sternly. “Then you shall be chastised as well.”

“No!” she exclaimed and wrenched her wrist from him, stepping back. 

He was surprised by her defiance-- she'd been nothing but eager to please him since they wed. 

She shook her head at him.  “I don't need to be...chastised.”  She spit out the last word with a little shake of her head, as if to rid it from her tongue.  “I understand what I've done wrong and I will not do it again.”

He hid a smile. “It isn't up to you, Meriwyn. I've decided you do need a spanking and I'm going to give it to you.”

At that, she whirled around and bolted for the door.

“Meriwyn!” he roared.

She froze and turned slowly to face him again, apparently not bold enough to defy his anger.  She wrung her hands and abruptly changed her tack.  “I'm sorry, Conrad.”  She dropped dramatically to her knees and interlaced her fingers.  “I beg your forgiveness,” she pleaded. “Please do not spank me.”

She was so clearly not contrite, desperate to try anything to get out of her chastisement, that he burst into laughter. She looked up at him hopefully. 

“I could think of a use for you on her knees like that,” he observed lewdly. 

She took a breath, the heave of her chest giving a little bounce to her ample breasts.  “You think I do not understand you, sir, but  I do.”  She swallowed.  “And I'm willing.” 

Already aroused from the bath and the idea of chasing her around the room to spank her, his cock went rock hard. Her eyes fell on it and widened slightly. God's blood. He should not-- he absolutely should not-- let her get out of a punishment by offering him sexual favors. Her eyes moved from his face to his engorged cock and her lips parted. His breath grew ragged and he felt his resolve melting...he simply could not resist. He stepped forward. Her small pale hands reached for his length and guided him into her opened mouth. Oh God. So warm, so sweet. He groaned. She licked and sucked tentatively, unsure of what she was doing. Part of him wanted to guide her, but the desire to observe and enjoy her unschooled attempt won out. She raised her eyes frequently to his face, looking for his reactions and responding to his murmurs of approval. 

As he grew more excited, he wanted more than she knew how to give. He considered taking her by the hair and thrusting into her mouth as he pleased-- she was taking this as her penance, after all-- but he didn't wish her to learn to dislike the act. He took her hand an showed her where he wanted it-- squeezing tight right at the base of his cock-- and then he gently guided her head in and out, increasing the tempo and depth. Her eyes widened and she looked slightly frightened, but she did not protest and he merrily found his way to completion, pulling out of her mouth to spill his seed on the floor in front of her. 

She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and stood up. 

“Did I say you could stand?” he asked.

“No sir,” she said, dropping immediately to her knees again, her eyes fearfully questioning. 

His lips twisted into a smile.  “You may.”

She made a huffing sound and got to her feet with a stomp. “You toy with me!” she exclaimed indignantly. 

He grinned. “Aye, my lady. But you'd best mind your tone or I'll reconsider my decision not to spank.”

She blushed and curtsied. “Thank you, my lord.”

She brought him his clothing and helped him to dress. When he finished, he sat down on a stool and patted his knee. “Come here, Meriwyn.”

 

She started to approach and then hesitated. Did he wish her to sit upon his lap or lie over it? He laughed openly when he saw her indecision, which made her cheeks grow hot. “Come here, I wish to speak with you,” he said firmly. She stepped forward, hesitatingly. 

When she had drawn close enough, he reached for her, pulling her to sit.  She gave a deep sigh of relief.  He cupped the side of her head with one hand and turned it so that she was forced to look at him. Her eyes danced along the collar of his tunic. “Look at me,” he said gently. 

She obeyed, lifting her eyes to meet his dark-lashed hazel ones.

“You are not to encourage your lady to disobey the prince. The next time she is chastised, you will be chastised as well.  And you shall not distract me from my purpose a second time by offering me what already is mine to take.”

“As I promised, my lord, I shall not make the same mistake again,” she said in a rush and he chuckled. She didn't know why he found this so amusing, but it was decidedly better than his yelling, which had frightened her so badly she'd nearly peed herself. 

He pushed her off his lap and gave her bottom a pat.  She felt her face flush again as she thought about that hand actually smarting her bottom in earnest. He quirked a knowing smile at her and stood up, giving the top of her head a kiss.  “I need to check on things here at the keep, but I'll see you at supper,” he said.

She curtsied and then sighed when he left. By Our Lady, he'd meant to spank her. Meriwyn was shocked. Of course, husbands spank wives. This should not come as such a surprise to her. But she'd never imagined she would be subject to chastisement. And she certainly hadn't imagined the princess would be. She felt horrible for encouraging her lady to disobey and causing her to be whipped. They'd both thought the rule was silly, and she'd told her no one would stop them with the prince away. No one had-- but apparently their excursion had not gone unnoticed.

Should she go to her lady now?  She opened the door and walked down the hall to the prince and princess's room. The door was closed. She hesitated and then shamelessly put her ear to the door.  She heard the sound of low voices-- both the prince's and her lady's. She turned and quickly retreated. 

Her lady did not call for her before supper, so she waited for a glimpse of her in the great hall and watched when she emerged down the stairs with the prince. Meriwyn didn't know what she'd expected, but she was surprised to see her lady nestled tightly against her husband, his arm draped protectively around her. Even when they sat at the high table they sat as if stuck together, his arm wrapping around her and stroking her arm and side. Her eyes were slightly red-rimmed and she certainly appeared subdued, but not sullen or  angry. 

At bedtime, she went to attend to the princess, helping her to undress. “Are you all right?” she asked anxiously.

“Why do you ask?” the princess queried, suspiciously.

“Sir Conrad spoke to me about our leaving the keep.”

“Aye,” the princess sighed. “My lord was angry and I paid the price for it. I can tell you, I shall not cross my husband on anything for the rest of my life, if I can help it.”

“I'm so sorry, my lady.  'Twas my fault.”

Tova shook her head, “Nay, 'twas my decision.”

“Sir Conrad was going to chastise me for my part in it, but I managed to... well... talk my way out of it.”

Princess Tova gave her a rueful look. “Good for you.” She pulled up her chemise and turned around to show the purple welts across her bottom and the backs of her legs. 

Meriwyn gasped in horror. 

“Aye.  But 'twas not the whipping that was the worst of it, actually.”

“What do you mean?”

The princess looked thoughtful as Meriwyn brushed her hair. “I mean...having him angry with me was the worst of it. He was very disappointed and he scolded and looked frightening until I almost cried. 'Twas actually the punishment that made things right between us again.” 

 Meriwyn considered that. “I suppose it's nice to have a quarrel resolved so swiftly.”

“So thought I. By the time he finished chastising me, he was as tender and loving as could be.  He didn't leave me to 'think about what I'd done' the way my mother had as a child. He laid me upon the bed and held me in his arms, though he surely had much to do in the keep after being gone for so long.  It was...nice. It made me sure I would not disappoint him again-- not because it was so horrible, but... more because he is a good husband.” she said.  “Does that make any sense?”

Not really. “Of course, my lady.”

She mulled that over when she went to her own chamber.  The princess's words matched what she had witnessed at supper.  But she couldn't imagine feeling the same way. To be whipped so harshly.... she shuddered. She was absolutely terrified of it, and it seemed to be all she could dwell on.  As she lay in bed and watched Henic and Hunwald attending to her husband, her mind kept pulling her there. She observed Conrad's large hands pulling off his boots and imagined how they would feel on her backside.  She eyed his leather sword belt and felt her heart pick up speed. She realized, with a start, that he must whip Henic, and mayhap even Hunwald. And Anna, his daughter. That thought filled her with dismay. She would have to try to protect the child.  

Only when her handsome husband dismissed the boys and crawled onto the bed with a look that told her that their after-bath activity had not fully satisfied him, did she put it out of her mind. She watched his muscles ripple as he climbed over her and nudged her head to the side, leaving a trail of kisses down her neck. She arched as his lips dragged over her collarbone, eager to have them settle a little lower.  He chuckled and teased her nipple with his thumb until it stood erect, aching for his mouth.  Only then did he slowly lower his mouth, sucking and nipping at it so she felt a corresponding tug between her legs.  She sighed with pleasure, her fingers wending through his sandy brown hair. 

“I missed you, husband,” she murmured. 

“Mmm...I've been thinking about doing this since the moment I left,” he murmured. He moved to her other breast as one of his warm hands stroked down her belly and cupped her bottom. She tightened her cheeks, thrusting her hips upward, eager for more. Conrad's hand slid around and found its way to her sex from behind. This time she thrust her hips backward.  His fingers glided up and down her outer sex, dipping into her natural moisture and spreading it. She moaned in response to the exquisite pleasure of his touch.

Emboldened by her experience after the bath, she reached down and grasped his cock the way he had shown her, then pulled her hand down toward the head and back up again.  Conrad made a growling sound and sprang into position to penetrate her.  He rubbed the head of his sex over her silky slit and then pushed inside.  She gasped at the sensation – the burn of his large length stretching her passage, the satisfaction of feeling him within her at last. She wrapped her legs around his back and locked her ankles, pulling him tighter against her, deeper within her, but preventing him from driving in and out too forcefully because her hips were affixed to his.  He rocked, still managing to thrust into her and she arched, moving her hips in rhythm with his, slowly releasing the grip of her thighs and allowing him to withdraw and plunge again and again.  Her need for release built until she clawed at his shoulders and gritted her teeth, emitting her own low growl.  Conrad slammed against her in an urgent rhythm until they both cried out, climaxing, one right after the other.  He smiled down at her as they both caught their breath.

Afterward, she curled into him, her head resting on his shoulder, one knee draped over his body, listening as his breath turned to gentle snores. She couldn't sleep-- her mind had slid back to the worry of his spanking her.  It seemed so in-congruent with the man who had just made love to her. How could he hurt her? 

She shifted in his arms and he woke, his snores stopping abruptly as he moved to accommodate her changed position. 

“I never knew I'd be spanked.” she said into the silence. 

Conrad opened one eye and gazed at her, then closed it and opened them both. He considered her. “You're afraid of it, aren't you?” he asked gently. She was grateful that he did not laugh at her this time.

She nodded.

“You've not been spanked before?”

She shook her head. “Only a few swats as a child. Never with a strap.”

He smoothed her hair back from her face, but said nothing. 

“Were you going to spank me with a strap?”

“No. I was going to use my hand.”

“The prince spanked Princess Tova with a strap.”

“I'm sure he did,” Conrad said. Then he made a shrugging motion, which was really just one shoulder, since he was lying on the other. “It's just a sore bottom, Meriwyn.”

The way her heart was beating in her chest said it was something far worse. “I don't want to be spanked,” she said in a small voice.

Conrad smiled at her fondly and touched her nose. “Then you'll have to be an obedient wife, won't you?”

“But what if I make a mistake?  How will I know how not to displease you?  We only just met four months ago.”

His mouth twitched a bit. “I won't spank you without giving you a warning first,” he promised.

“But what about today? You'd given me no warning.”

He raised an eyebrow at her. “You needed a warning not to disobey the prince? Our lord and master?”

She felt her cheeks grow hot. “No, sir,” she mumbled. 

“I thought not.”

“Will you only spank with your hand?” she asked hopefully.

He regarded her for a long moment. “I will spank you as I deem appropriate, Meriwyn,” he said firmly at she felt her belly flip. 

She had nothing more to say to him, then, so she rolled over to face away. He rolled her back.  “Nay, woman, what are you doing?”

Her lips trembled, though why she felt as though she might cry, she could not say. “Sir?” she managed.

He pulled her in closely against him. “You need not be afraid and you need not hide from me.  Nothing's changed between us.”

She leaned her forehead against his hard chest and hid her face there. He was wrong--everything had changed.


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